How do you pronounce Murinae?
November 30, 2005 10:45 AM   Subscribe

How do you pronounce Murinae?
posted by Jairus to Writing & Language (19 answers total)
With a long EEEE at the end, it would seem. MYOO-rin-eee.
posted by Gator at 10:52 AM on November 30, 2005

My take on it would be myoo-rin-aaay. Long A at the end, not E. For what it's worth I study rodents, but... that doesn't necessarily make me an expert at pronunciation. Check Walker's Mammals of the World if you have access to a University library, there should be a pronunciation key in there to the taxonomic groupings.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:28 AM on November 30, 2005

(It's funny because it seems I'm incorrect, but I don't think I know anyone who pronounces it with the long E.)
posted by caution live frogs at 11:29 AM on November 30, 2005

I dunno, it seems like EE seems to be the standard for ae -- algae (AL-jee), Ceasar (SEE-zer), and so on. Actually, based on closer reading of the page I linked to, it should probably have the emphasis on the second syllable with a long I -- they have felinae ("fe-LINE-ee"), so it should probably be myoo-RYE-nee.
posted by Gator at 11:41 AM on November 30, 2005

Are we talking British or American here? That would probably make a difference, since I've heard scientific terms pronounced differently between the two.
posted by matildaben at 11:43 AM on November 30, 2005

posted by drylongso at 11:57 AM on November 30, 2005

I've never understood why "Caesar" is pronounced "SEE-zer"; a "cae" seems like it should be pronounced "kai" (as in "kaiser").
posted by Captain_Tenille at 12:07 PM on November 30, 2005

The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 6th ed., says myoo-RI-nee. "oo" in "oo" as in "book," not as in "boot;" second syllable rhymes with "high;" third syllable as in "knee." Primary stress on the second syllable, secondary stress on the third syllable.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:07 PM on November 30, 2005

oops, left off:

", which is how it was pronounced in Latin in the first place".
posted by Captain_Tenille at 12:08 PM on November 30, 2005

It seems to be the difference between "academic" and "traditional" pronunciation in taxonomy.
posted by Gator at 12:23 PM on November 30, 2005

In my (amateur) experience, dictionaries and prescriptivists say "ee", but more and more real people are saying "ay". So go for either one, I say.
posted by gubo at 12:25 PM on November 30, 2005

In latin class we learned -ae to be pronounced "eye". Kaiser comes from Caesar.
posted by drylongso at 12:35 PM on November 30, 2005

I've never understood why "Caesar" is pronounced "SEE-zer"; a "cae" seems like it should be pronounced "kai" (as in "kaiser")

And in Latin, it is pronounced kaiser. They're the same word.

My personal stance is that the historically correct pronunciation for -ae is "eye", but actual usage seems to favor "ee".
posted by jdroth at 1:15 PM on November 30, 2005

I'd go with history on this one. Myoo -rin- EYE
posted by oddman at 1:27 PM on November 30, 2005

i don't know how it's commonly pronounced in the usa (or by people who deal with murinae), but correct latin would be just "eye", second correct way would be "eye-e" (more separation between A and E to show it's plural)
posted by suni at 2:29 PM on November 30, 2005

Go with Gator and read Gator’s link. moo-RYE-nee.
posted by cgc373 at 3:07 PM on November 30, 2005

OK, here's the deal. There are several stages that need to be distinguished:

1) Classical Latin. We know in some detail how it was pronounced (good description here); the word mūrīnae (feminine plural of the adjective mūrīnus 'mousy') would have been pronounced approximately moo-REE-nigh (in early times or by conservative speakers; it changed to moo-REE-neh at different times in different places). This is completely irrelevant to the pronunciation of modern English.

2) Traditional English. When English borrowed Latin words wholesale in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it pronounced them, quite naturally, as if they were English. When the Great Vowel Shift happened around 1500, the pronunciation of Latin and of words borrowed from Latin quite naturally changed just like all other words. So if murinae had been part of the language then, it would have changed from moo-REE-neh to myoo-RIGH-nee, just as Chaucer's mine (MEE-nuh) changed to the current pronunciation (final schwa also disappeared). Until the late nineteenth century, Latin and Latin borrowings were pronounced that way in English, so that Caesar was pronounced SEE-zer, Latin cauda 'tail' was CAW-duh, and trauma TRAW-muh. The rules were clear and simple.

3) Restored pronunciaton. When people started realizing that the ancient Romans had pronounced their language very differently, there arose a movement to use that pronunciation instead of the anglicized one that had developed. But this would apply only to actual Latin, so that cauda would be pronounced COW-dah, but trauma (which had become part of English) would remain TRAW-muh and fully naturalized names like Caesar also kept their traditional pronunciation. This pretty much created havoc, because not everybody wanted to use the restored pronunciation, and those who did couldn't agree on how aggressively to restore and which words to use the restored version on. Specifically (and here we get to the point), what do you do about scientific nomenclature? For generations people had been saying FEE-lis for the feline genus Felis; were they now supposed to start saying FAY-lis?

Fortunately, groups of people with common goals tend to solve these problems for themselves, and scientists have developed ways of pronouncing Linnaean names that work for them. That is the only relevant speech community here. It's completely irrelevant how the ancient Romans would have pronounced these words, and not much more relevant how 19th-century scientists did. A. Murray, for example, who created the subfamily name Murinae in 1866, undoubtedly said myoo-RIGH-nee, but so what? He also would have thought of agenda as a plural. Language changes, and if you want to communicate with today's scientists, you pronounce their terms the way they do. With that in mind, I would accept caution live frogs' answer as canonical, since he actually works in the field; if he doesn't know anyone who pronounces it with long E, then that's not how it's pronounced, regardless of what classicists or other outsiders might think.

Sorry for the long comment!
posted by languagehat at 3:26 PM on November 30, 2005

There's a good discussion here:
The standard pronunciation of Latin that scholars have reconstructed implies the primacy (for literary purposes) of the so-called Golden Age of Caesar, Cicero, and the Augustan poets and historians. Infectious disease specialists in the 21st century should not adopt this pronunciation, unless it is a genuinely useful and acceptable solution to a real problem... Classicists should be willing to help if they are asked but have no proprietary rights over the functional idiolect of modern scientific Latin whose users can use whatever pronunciation they find conducive to communication.
posted by languagehat at 3:28 PM on November 30, 2005

I love you all. Thanks.
posted by Jairus at 5:28 AM on December 1, 2005

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